across the universe vs. glow

Two books with one sci-fi premise, long-distance human travel to colonize potentially inhabitable planets, present two very different narratives...

Across the Universe by Beth Revis is a comparatively leisurely and internal journey through the experience of Amy, a teenage girl whom we meet as she is being cryogenically frozen.  So that she can be revived, along with her parents, to colonize a new planet.  In about 300 years.  And, of course, it takes awhile before she is revived, and the contemplations of her conscious-yet-static mind occupy many chapters before the reanimated action begins.  One interesting strength of this book is that the chapters vary in perspective, and sometimes it takes a minute to figure out what's going on because of that, especially during the part when she is still frozen.  Once Amy is thawed, the book becomes a combination dystopian fantasy and mystery.   Amy meets Elder, who will become the ship's leader in the future.  She also meets Eldest, the current leader, and is horrified at the freedoms that have been stripped away and the extreme complacency of the people living on the ship.  The only sane people seem to live in the mental ward of the hospital.  Meanwhile, Amy's thawing presents a whodunnit mystery; she was left to thaw and die, but was saved by Elder, and now someone is continuing to try to kill key strategic personnel who are in stasis.  Overall, I'd recommend this book, and I hope the series will be as compelling as this first installment, but I would say that this novel works best for readers who are willing to travel through a fairly long stretch of internal narration before the story really gets moving.

On the other hand, if you crave pulse-pounding adventure, then Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan might be a better choice for your go-to travel-across-the-universe-to-terraform-another-planet adventure.  Two ships are making their way toward the planet they hope to call home.  The New Horizon is far ahead of the ship our protagonists occupy, the Empyrean.  Waverly is our central narrator, but a close second, in chapters that shift perspective, is her boyfriend Kieran.  Life is going well for the two oldest of this generation of young people born on the Empyrean, until one day, with no warning, they are attacked.  By the New Horizon.  And Waverly and all the other girls are whisked away to this marauding ship where, they quickly learn, no one has been able to have children since the ships were launched, years ago.  Worse yet, their charismatic leader, Anne Mather, is using her position as pastor and captain to try to keep the ship's people, and even the kidnapped girls themselves, from understanding what really happened.  For awhile, we don't even know if the Empyrean made it.  And, although they are not impregnated against their wills, the girls who are sexually mature are all subjected to forced ovum donation surgical procedures.  Soon, many middle-aged women on the ship are pregnant with babies created from these stolen eggs.  Meanwhile, the boys discover that the only adults left alive are dying or near dead from radiation poisoning due to a reactor meltdown in the engines.  Kieran does his best to be the leader that they need, but his rival Seth is ruthless and blames him for the loss of their parents' lives.  Sound heart-pounding enough yet?  I found myself ripping through this one, and I eagerly await the sequel.  From the religious/nonreligious issues to the questions about reproduction and freedom, this book is replete with issues that will appeal to (and make great discussion fodder for) teen readers.